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National Board for Education Sciences 2007 Annual Report

August 2006 to July 2007

On November 5, 2002, Congress passed the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA), establishing the Institute of Education Sciences (IES, or the Institute) and its advisory board, the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES, or the Board). The Institute reports to Congress yearly on the condition of education in the United States. The Institute provides thorough and objective evaluations of federal programs, sponsors research relevant and useful to educators and others (such as policymakers), and serves as a trusted source of gold-standard, reliable, unbiased information on what works in education.

Members of the Board are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Board has met three times. In July 2007, the President nominated a new board member, David Geary, Ph.D., and welcomed a new executive director, Norma Garza, the second person to serve in this position.

Example of rigorous, randomized design
Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Cohort.
This study called for the use of "scientifically based research methods and control groups or conditions" to focus on the impact of technology on student academic achievement.

Since the inception of IES, significant progress has been made in transforming education into an evidence-based field through

  • a notable increase in the number and percentage of research and evaluation projects using scientifically rigorous designs, especially randomized designs;
  • the establishment of a credible scientific peer-review process for research and evaluation that is independent of the program offices; and
  • the adoption of concrete performance measures for IES that focus on building the number of research-proven interventions that are of policy and practical importance.

ESRA mandates that the Board shall submit an annual report "that assesses the effectiveness of the Institute in carrying out its priorities and mission, especially as they relate to carrying out scientifically valid research, conducting unbiased evaluations, and collecting and reporting accurate education statistics, and translating research into practice." The Board is pleased to submit the 2007 Annual Report in the hope that it will convey the extent of the progress the Institute has made to transform education into an evidence-based field in which decision-makers turn to scientifically reliable data to inform policies and practices. This report is intended primarily as a summary of developments over the past year. A more systematic assessment awaits the results of the evaluation now under way, and will be included in our next report.